Today we distributed a leaflet in front of the Hyundai factory in Nošovice, where there was a wildcat strike recently (check out this article by the Slovak IWA section, Priama akcia, for more information). This is a rough English translation of the text.
First things first: we don't work at Nošovice. We are a workers' group though, we support workers who refuse to be pushed around, we are following the situation in car industry in the Czech Republic, we know the experience of workers involved in struggles in Italian or French car factories, we have contacts with auto workers in Korea. We only want to say a few things on what's going on in Nošovice.
First of all: Respect. Going on strike required, especially at a time of economic crisis, a lot of courage and determination. The workers at Metal Finish were able to organize themselves as a force against the factory regime, against the repression and bullying by their superiors, who were afraid of this force. Their fear was justified – a disruption in production is something which makes them listen. It hits their paycheck.
The struggle was started by the workers and it is them who should decide on the next events and goals of the struggle.
The unions demand the opposite from the workers: Leave everything exclusively to our negotiations, do not plunge into something on your own! It would be a mistake, however, to believe that being passive gives you a chance to get what you want.
After all, things got moving only because the workers themselves took action in their own interest on December 2nd.
To believe that now it's time for bargaining at the table, and that when the workers will be disciplined the management will display respect for them, is to let the chance slip through one's fingers. Hyundai's management has experience with much harder struggles in Korea and negotiations will definitely not scare them.
“But isn't now the time to join the unions, so that there's more of us?”, some ask. Of course, what is needed is the unity of the utmost number of workers. About 400 workers were able to create such unity on December 2nd. Without unions. Workers at Dymos were able to spread the struggle. Some of you called upon the people in Mobis and other factories to join in. All without the unions even moving a finger.
The workers didn't need unions in order to struggle, and many of you realize this. And the fact that both strikes were non-union does not mean that nobody organized them. They both had their organizers who made sure that the strikes take place. In other words, both strikes created fundaments of organization. A strike committee, which would further organize the struggle independently of the unions, could grow up right out of such fundaments. Workers who are already unionized can join, too.
We don't know to what extent the workers of Hyundai are content with the demands put forward by the trade union. But these demands should certainly be subject to collective debate in the factory (even at the price of work stoppages) and active workers and the strike committee should not allow the steps and goals of the trade union to limit them in any way.
The unions and Vaněk [the spokesman of Hyundai] are both saying the same thing: The situation needs to be calmed down. No. The situation needs to be solved in favor of the workers. That requires force and power. This power is not in the unions' boasting how many workers they represent in the negotiation. The power of workers is in yellow screens. [The “yellow screen” refers to a picture of an assembly line monitor taken by a cellphone by one of the workers. The monitor turned yellow and displayed warnings when the assembly line was stopped.]
The organization of labor process in Nošovice is very vulnerable. This applies to both Hyundai on the inside and the whole production chain outside. Work stoppages in one department or one subcontracted plant can disrupt the whole production. Vulnerable organization of production means nothing in itself, though. In order to use it, the workers need an effective and powerful self-organization.
This leaflet is based on the experience of workers. It is only up to you how you deal with it. It is you who are bringing their own hide to market. The decision whether to struggle or not to struggle is always difficult and requires cold blood, as there is no certainty whatsoever that the struggle will be victorious.
The only thing certain is that the question stands: Today we invest our energy into work for the bosses' profits. Are we ready to invest it in a struggle for improving our own conditions? Much depends on the answer to this question and on the ability of workers to organize themselves and have their struggle under control: how big their demands will be, what form will the direct struggle in the workplace take...
The decision must be up to the workers who started the struggle, no up to those who are now trying to take control of it.
You have shown that you have power. Don't be afraid of it.
December 9th 2009
Collectively Against Capital (Czech Republic, Slovakia)
kpk (~at~) protikapitalu.org
good leaflet. What sort of
good leaflet. What sort of reactions did you get from the workers?
Thanks. From what the
Thanks. From what the comrades who were distributing it told me, it was very difficult to get any reactions - people were rushing out of the factory (which is in the middle of nowhere, literally) into their cars or the bus. However, most people didn't refuse to take the leaflet ;) and we got out like a 700 of them. We're working on getting in touch with someone.